Golden State Warriors: 2022 NBA free agency grades for every key signing
The Golden State Warriors weren’t quite able to retain their championship roster this summer after all. Key reserves Gary Payton II and Otto Porter earned big-money raises on the open market that proved too expensive for Golden State, while bit players like Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damion Lee and Nemanja Bjelica decided to continue their careers elsewhere.
Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole are still eligible for extensions, and the Warriors maintain they fully plan on bringing both players back on long-term deals. But rumors of progress in contract negotiations have been few and far between since free agency tipped off two weeks ago, raising the possibility of Golden State heading into next season with Wiggins and Poole as prospective free agents.
Even if they’re ultimately re-upped before 2022-23, that doesn’t change the Warriors’ status with free agency slowing to an increasing crawl as July continues. The reigning champions are basically bound to defend their title as currently constructed, with no other major additions or subtractions to come before training camp tips off in late September.
Here are grades for every key Golden State signing in 2022 free agency.
Golden State Warriors 2022 NBA Free Agency Grades
Kevon Looney: three years, $25.5 million — A-
The open market was never going to value Looney like the Warriors.
His severe offensive limitations are masked by the singular presence of Stephen Curry, whose incessant movement poses an imminent threat to all five defenders on the floor from the moment he crosses halfcourt. Looney is a canny screener, dominant offensive rebounder and underrated passer, but his playable offensive utility exists solely within the Warriors’ system, and the rest of the league knew it.
He’s far more scalable on the other end, capable of playing and thriving in multiple coverages. Still, Looney isn’t so dominant defensively as to warrant an eight-figure salary in a vacuum, a reality that ended up saving Golden State millions in additional luxury tax payments once he put pen to paper.
Looney played the best basketball of his career in the playoffs, cinching his return to the Warriors. His checkered injury history and unavoidable offensive deficiencies allowed Golden State to not only get him back on below league-average salary, but also with a partially guaranteed third and final year of his new contract.
If James Wiseman is ready to supplant him or Looney ages poorly into his late twenties, the Warriors will be on the hook for just $3 million of his contract for 2024-25—the same season, not coincidentally, Bob Myers and the front office could finally have some significant roster flexibility if they want it.
Donte DiVincenzo: two years, $9.3 million — A
Losing Payton hurts Golden State.
He’s one of the several best defenders in basketball on a per-minute basis, combining elite physical tools with an ever-burning motor and the natural anticipation that made his father a legend. It’s no surprise that Payton’s breakout campaign came with the Warriors, either. The same Curry dynamic that kept Looney from being an offensive liability last season helped turn Payton into one of the league’s best play finishers, mitigating his weaknesses as a long-range shooter and self-creator.
DiVincenzo is a much different player than Payton, but expect him to slide comfortably into the two-way void left by Young Glove regardless. He’s a dogged, active defender both on and off the ball, with enough athletic verve to operate offensively in the same spaces Payton thrived—as a weak-side cutter, small-small screener and transition igniter. Most intriguing? DiVincenzo combines those attributes with a solid if somewhat streaky jumper, at 35.9% for his career on catch-and-shoot triples, per NBA.com/stats.
The only drawback to DiVincenzo’s contract is that Golden State could very well be priced out of re-signing him. Just like Porter last year, he took a discount to sign with the Warriors, hoping success in a key reserve role for a title contender will prompt a bigger payday next summer.
Golden State only had Non-Bird Rights on Porter this offseason, capping its maximum annual offer to him at 120% of his previous one. DiVincenzo, still just 25, would be limited to a starting salary slightly lower than the current taxpayer mid-level exception if he re-signed with the Warriors a year from now. He’ll definitely want more than that after an early career marred by injuries, and multiple teams will be prepared to give it to the former first-round pick if he plays as well as expected in The Bay.
But allowing DiVincenzo the option to hit free agency after 2022-23 was surely a prerequisite to his signing. Capped-out teams function within extreme confines in free agency, and plugging a new roster hole with a proven, two-way playoff performer on the cheap marks a major win for Golden State—even if DiVincenzo’s stay is short.